And so it begins. Our trip to Portes du Soleil. Scheduled time Saturday, 13.35, estimated time 16.00, canceled in the end, at 17.30. We wait for a solution at ticketing and it seems like all the departures for today have been canceled. So we’re thinking “Ok, let’s leave tomorrow”. While in line, I am looking at the timetable. I can see some check in openings. “Oh!” My mind had just been adjusting to the idea of leaving tomorrow, when suddenly there is this slight possibility of leaving tonight! Nope, nobody’s leaving. “Tomorrow then”, I thought. It was Tuesday the day we left, after all. “Oh nooo, so on Monday I have to go to work then…” And so I did. Never mind that or the tones of snow fallen over Bucharest or the chaos it caused.
Tuesday finally came! The 8.10 flight to Geneva is going to take us closer to our holiday destination. The morning arrival time is the perfect excuse to spend an entire day in the second largest city (after Zurich) in Switzerland and came later to become the perfect beginning of our vacation. The whole day was like a surprise. Even though there were only 3 degrees outside, the sun makes this day look like a spring day. Spring holiday day kind of day. So we rent a car and begin the journey. Since I knew Geneva is one of the most important financial and diplomatic cities in the world (and also the city that hosts the highest number of international organizations in the world, I later found out), I figured the amount of traffic and people would be likewise. Somewhat huge, and busy, and nasty. Was, though, pleasantly surprised when I could feel the relaxed vibrations, step by step, all over the city.
First stop, the coffee shop Boreal (60, Rue du Stand). When parking the car outside (instead of parking it inside and paying for it, as we’d done later), you must have a special “macaron” (that’s its real name) indicating the time you had parked your car so that you know when an hour and half have passed and you have to move it elsewhere or leave. Yes, this is a rule. And so we did at 11.40 in front of the coffee shop. Boreal is a nice place with a calm atmosphere to stay in for good coffee and bites, reading, writing or a nice chat.
We had 45 minutes left of parking, so we took a walk in downtown Geneva. I couldn’t help noticing the clean, neat, yet pretty fun architecture. Rather small buildings, but almost each with something original about them. Either with cozy, romantic balconies (with just a tiny table with a chair on one side and another one on the other side) which I am crazy about, or top floor enormous windows with beautiful views (I can only imagine the gorgeous natural light inside, the fireplace, an elegant comfortable couch to lay on oh!) or nice pastel colored, with fresh flowers facades.
We arrive in Plainpalais (near Rue du Rhone, the Champs Élysées of Switzerland).
A vast place where people gather on weekends and do fun stuff. Watch plays, ride bicycles, read in the sun, do sports, socialize, organize flea markets. Or go more artsy-shmartsy about it and do this. In case of just a couple of minutes to be in this place: smile, kiss, play and make a picture.
We walk back to our car. We don’t want to get any fine for not moving the car after an hour and a half. We rode for a while to get the vibration of Geneva. Playful sun rays through pretty narrow streets, small green places guarded by trim trees, calm drivers in their clean cars, nice window displays (the notorious shops of Rue du Rhone and the cute boutiques nearby), beautiful views at the end of every street.
We got to Cornavin, the main railway located in the centre of the city. This time we leave the car in the parking to be sure we have enough time to enjoy Geneva and grab a good bite. Just as we come out and go on Rue du Mont-Blanc we spot the Mont-Blanc itself. Proudly reigning from above, over the Lac Léman, one of the largest lakes in Western Europe and our companion for most of the rest of the day.
Actors Noël Coward, James Mason, Peter Ustinov, Richard Burton, and Audrey Hepburn all lived in villages on the shores of or in view of the lake. There is a memorial statue of Charlie Chaplin along the promenade in Vevey, a city on the northern shore of the lake, where the actor spent his final years and died. David Bowie moved to a chalet to the north of Lake Geneva in 1976, which inspired him to take up painting and informed the first stages of the “Berlin Trilogy”. Pop singer Phil Collins lives in a home overlooking the lake. Rock band Queen owned and operated Mountain Recording Studios (which is still in use today) in Montreux (also on the northern shore of the lake). There is a statue of lead singer Freddie Mercury, who also owned a second home in Montreux. Ex-Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher lives with his family in a home overlooking the lake.
While admiring the view on the right (the lake and its surrounding vays with lavishing houses), I couldn’t help noticing, yet again, the beautiful blocks surrounded by lovely trees, amongst the most luxurious hotels in Geneva, on the left, on Quai du Mont-Blanc (Kempinski, President Wilson, D’Angleterre).
It is rather weird, in a pleasant way, how in one of the most important economic centres in the world, you feel this relaxed, with people jogging or walking their pets on the cliff on a Tuesday afternoon, and not heavy at all, as you would expect to feel.
But this all from above are nothing compared to the simple, yet wonderful park we have just arrived in. Geneva is often referred to as the “City of Parks” due to the fact that over one quarter of the city is covered by public parks. Many of the parks were once grand estates that were later dedicated to the city. Most of the parks are situated along the lake with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. This one is called Park Moynier on Route du Lausanne. There is this cute, romantic bench right at the entrance. Can’t help laying here for even just a bit.
As climbing up the small hill I feel as if entering a tale sort of field. With astonishing views wherever I look at, neatly dressed people who salute you with a warm smiling “Bonjour!” (just like that!) and birds singing from the pretty tress.
When talking about trees… There is this tree. “Probably the most beautiful tuilipier in the world” is written on the card attached to it. It must be.
The History of Science Museum, a former estate home, is located in the center of Park Moynier. Outside there are this two “ears”. You can say “Hello!” in one and someone from near the other one will hear it. It is actually an old method for people to communicate. Read this on the plate between the plates.
We think of ending this serene day with something super good to eat. That is how we got to Ole-Ole (11, Rue du Fribourg). Surpisingly, it is a Spanish cuisine and even more surprisingly, we found here the best cheeseburger in the world. Ok, don’t think of something out of the ordinary or something super exclusive. No. It is simply the right amount of every ingridient and each of every one just perfectly made in the most welcoming place with friendly host. Just as simple.
Time to go back to the car and head to Port du Soleil. One great day in Geneva. Inhale… Exhale… They don’t call Geneva “The Peace Capital” for nothing, after all.
Or maybe it was just me and the things I felt that day. The sun on my face on a winter’s day, the lightness of a vacation day on a Tuesday and the love… Everyday.